“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” –Psalm 24:1
I remember going to the store to buy birthday presents for my mom and dad as a child. As an excited elementary kid whose love language was, and still is, gift giving, I searched through the aisles for the perfect shirt, trinket, or treat when their birthdays came around, dragging my other parent in tow. After finding the gift that I thought would top all gifts, we’d check out and I’d eagerly await getting to present this gift that I’d poured so much love into, with a gift that tag would read, “To Mom (or Dad), Love Lexy.”
As an adult, I realized something humorous about those trips. As excited as I was to give them a gift from me, I was not the one who had paid for it. Yes, from their joint bank account, mom and dad essentially paid for their own presents, and let me have the joy of giving it to them. Even if I had been entrusted with an allowance (a common practice in families outside of my own), the money still would have come from my parents and essentially just added an in-between step to the same process. So why did my parents allow me to gift them with what was already theirs? Because they loved me enough to teach me the important act of giving joyfully from the heart.
Much like my parents receiving what was already theirs, when we give to God, we are giving God what has always belonged to our creator. God calls us into stewardship, God teaches us how to give, not because God needs our gifts (they’re already God’s!) but because God wants us to learn how to give joyfully! To turn our gaze outward, to live fully into God’s abundance! We are children of God—entrusted with time, talents, and treasure from our loving and patient parent—and we choose how we spend and share what God has entrusted to us. We are not the owners of God’s goodness and creation, but joyful stewards of it.
God is at the center of stewardship, because just like giving gifts, stewardship is not about what is given but the Love behind it. We are called to be good stewards, learning a little more each day from our heavenly parent: not to hide away or hoard what we have been entrusted with but invest and share it abundantly; not to worship it but use it as a tool to worship God and serve our neighbor; not to live out of a fear of scarcity but out of abundance. These are lessons we continue to learn throughout our entire lives as children of God.
God’s place in Stewardship centers us in the life of Jesus. We learn by example, by mentorship. And so we give, because of the One who gave it all for us. We share because of the One who shared this beautiful creation and all that is in it. And we do so joyfully because of the One who takes great delight in us.At the conclusion of the famous prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, we hear, “for it is in giving that we receive.” May we steward what we have been entrusted with the same joy and excitement of a child of God picking out gifts for our heavenly parent. May we give with the same exuberance and lavishness as we were taught to give. May we center our stewardship in the loving heart of God.
Lexy Steinle is a 2022 Master of Divinity (M.Div.) graduate of Luther Seminary. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota, with her two beloved cats and serves at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.